Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Wow A Quarter of the Year Gone!

Wow Folks. A quarter of the year has gone by already and this is about my first post since 2015 began.

I promise you all has been well and the only reason for my lack of posts this year is just that I have been very busy.

The end of last year saw me taking up some independent living skills (ILS) lessons, these took up one day per week. I have learned some new things like cooking and cleaning house. Learning to cook again was possibly the best thing. Blindness had brought with it a terror of the cooker, hot plates and ovens are pretty scary when you can't see them. But with the addition of a bump dot or two and a patient teacher things come together in a nice meal.prepared by yours truly. Those ILS classes are now coming to an end.  But I cannot really explain fully what a difference they have made to my life in general.

I also took on a more active role in my membership of my local California Council for the Blind chapter here in Fresno.

In addition to continuing my part time work at my local library, I taught a U.S. Citizenship Preparation class at my local community college, the class went well and was a great deal of fun for all.

Then last but not least, I took a new hobby which shocked some of my wife's friends and family, but one which I enjoy very much. Fencing. More of my new hobby in later posts.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

At Starbucks Drive Through with Leif

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Visit to the Emergency Room

Last Sunday was an ok day. My wife and I sat watching the last week of the regular football season watching the teams battle out the last minutes of drama.

At the end of the afternoon my wife offered to take my guide dog Leif for a walk. This is ok, he needs an extra bit of excitement after a long day snoozing beside the TV.

As it was getting close to sunset, I decided not to go along. It would have meant no play for Leif as I would need him to guide me as my sight rapidly deteriorates after sunset.

They went out and about one  hour later I heard snuffling at the front door and a shuffle. Leif it turned out had been let loose and ran about like a mad thing. My wife unfortunately had not been able to step aside quite quickly enough.

Leif had hit her below the left knee, knocking her legs from beneath her. She had fallen twisting her ankle badly as she fell.

Leif was quite undeterred and led the way home with my wife shuffling along behind.

By the time they got home her ankle was badly swollen and painful. I harnessed  up Leif and we got my wife to the car and drove to the emergency rooms where she was seen in a few minutes, x-rays taken and the doctor happy there were no fractures prescribed some pain killers and rest.

If however my wife wanted to take a pain pill, she could not be allowed to drive herself home. At which the attending nurse turned to my wife and said "Well your husband can just drive you."

I heard my wife reply in no uncertain terms, "The blind man with a  guide dog?"

"Oh, yes. I see." said the nurse.

All bandaged and on crutches my wife and Leif and I left the emergenccy room. Giggling and enjoying how we might explain that I had been ordered to drive my wife home after an accident with my guide dog to any police or highway patrol officers we might have encountered.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Get on the Social Scene

The days are getting really short now. I have always liked this time of year. Not because of the long nights but because soon, very soon the days will start to grow longer again.

This season is also party time.

Last week my local chapter of California Council of the Blind had their Christmas party. It was great fun at a local 'Old Spaghetti House' Restaurant.

One thing I highly recommend a blind or visually impaired person to do is to try and join a local group of people like the CCB, various States have their own groups affiliated to the American Council of the Blind or the National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

I only joined the Fresno Chapter of California Council of the Blind in July. To be honest I only heard of the group in June. Now I am only saddened by the not knowing of them beforehand.

Joining with a group of people who share a similar experience is good for you. Some of the members have been blind since birth, some blinded by injury others have progressive visual impairment from a variety of disorders. But the group is very friendly and we have some good meetings.

The fact is blindness is isolating and meeting these people  eases lots of the loneliness of blindness. We laugh at the way sighted people often behave, we share tips on the latest gadgets, it all builds into a positive experience.

For instance last month some of us took in items we use as aids. Some shared their ideas of the latest apps others gave tips on how to arrange basic chores to make them easier.

Because of the group I am even getting to learn my Braille alphabet. The group spreads the social scale from retired to young people, a recently qualified chef to teachers and social workers. All of whom have something special to add to the group.

So if you haven't examined the idea before, as a New Year's Resolution why not take a look at what groups there are in your area.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

iPhone 6 Plus: First Opinions

I have had an iPhone 6 Plus for almost ttwo weeks now. It has been a fun time. As you may have guessed I am very happy with my Apple experience.

Here is some background: I only bought my first Apple product an iPad Air in June. Having been shown some of the things that Apple phones and tablets can do by a great guy at Guide Dogs for the Blind. He is a fellow guide dog user, he actually has Leif, my guide dog's, half sister and most importantly he is a programmer at Apple in Cupertino. So he knows his stuff about the product and how to use them.

I had been looking to buy a new phone for a while and when I heard of the new iPhone 6 I decided to wait until they were released and then buy an old "reduced price 5's." but the 5's did not come down in price and a 6 Plus was only $100 more to purchase on my current phone plan. So I waited almost two months for the iPhone 6 Plus to be in a store at the right time.

I had limited choice of color, only silver were available at the store but since I am blind and I was going to buy a case anyway. Why bother about colors for the phone.

The phone was set up to take my fingerprint to allow it to work. You also need to set up an unlock code at the same time in order to act as a back-up if the fingerprint system fails. This was good for me as the case I bought means I can't use the fingerprint scan very easily. Fat fingers don't make contact as easily it seems.

Siri, the built in assistant now works if the phone is charging, you can say "Hey Siri!" and Siri activates to do your bidding.

I use Siri to check my stock portfolio, help me call numbers from my contact list and send text messages.  Siri will also read me texts (the last text received) or will tell me what e-mails I have received.

I also like that I can say to Siri, call 571 XXX 1234 when a phone  number is not in my contacts and Siri will dial the number for me. That is a great deal easier than trying to fiddle with a piece of paper trying to read a number, trying to dial in a number as you do so with fingers that hit two numbers at one time. That was sometimes the situation with my old phone/

Siri's voice is clear,  I personally prefer the male voices which are easily changeable in the settings area. I haven't tried Voice Over on the iPhone yet. Just not had time to play around with that function yet, but if it is as good as on the iPad Air there will be few complaints.

So in all after two weeks I am happy with a phone that I can use and functions that are now easily available.

I will keep you posted as I learn more iPhone tricks. Until then maybe you should take a look at this book :